Another Day, Another Glorious Failure

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by DesertPilot, Nov 16, 2019.

  1. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Long timer

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    Today’s mission was to ride the Ducati Scrambler to New Idria. Why, you may ask, did I want to ride the Scrambler to New Idria? Did I feel some compelling need to visit abandoned mercury mines? Was this part of some plan to tour all of America’s Superfund sites? And how could I hope to reach a destination that was far outside my fuel range on a road that was far above my skill level? A man must have a dream!

    To set the stage, here’s a photo before I set out. In keeping with the ‘toxic waste’ theme of this mission, I’ve included my neigbbor’s trash can.

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    f you plan to explore the Panoche area – particularly if you’re on a bike with a 120 mile range – it’s essential to fill up at the country store in sunny Tres Pinos. This is the Last Gas Station On Earth. If you pass it by, hoping to find another, Darwin will pick your bones.

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    The Tres Pinos Water District building is across the street. I think it deserves a photo. You won’t find anything like this at Facebook, Apple, or Google!

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    The turnoff for Panoche is five miles past the Last Gas Station On Earth. That’s where the fun begins. When I rode this road on my Tiger, it was glorious. Surely it would be even more fun on a bike with a much stiffer spring rate, much firmer shocks, and 2/3 the suspension travel. Or so I thought. A valuable lesson awaited me.

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    By the time I reached the top of the first twisty bit, I had learned the error of my ways. I also wished I’d packed a spare set of kidneys. I considered calling it a day and slinking home with my tail between my legs, but.. slinking,… where’s the fun in that? Also, it would have been a crime against the Awesome Landscape Gods to turn back on a road like this, so I gritted my teeth and pressed on. Well, actually, I didn’t grit my teeth, since I wanted to keep them, but you get the idea.

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    After a certain amount of joy and abuse – the moto equivalent of S&M, perhaps – I reached what had always been the realistic goal for the day: the Griswold Hills Day Use Area. I have no idea who Griswold was, or what he used these hills for during the day, but every time I’m here, I stop, get off the bike, look around, and think, “Who would ever believe that all this empty landscape is only an hour and half ride from Silicon Valley?”

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    More griswolds. Perhaps this wasn’t a name. Perhaps it’s a noun meaning something like ‘a region of empty landscape only an hour and half ride from Silicon Valley’.

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    I still had 10-15 miles before I was down to half tank, so I decided to press on. I had no hope of reaching the end of the county maintained road, which is where the fun really begins for people who – unlike me – actually know how to ride, but I was curious to see how far I could get. Also, I couldn’t turn back yet. Would you?

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    That’s it. That’s as far as I got. The mission was a pointless failure in the middle of nowhere. But it was great pointless failure, and doing it on what might not have been the best possible bike for the job was character-building experience.

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    #1
  2. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Long timer

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    I built a bit more character on the way home, and I must say I love this road, kidneys and all.

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    And here’s the mandatory Photograph Of Food to wrap up the ride report – Cafe Borone’s meatball sandwich, brownie, and a glass of iced tea, with beer (not pictured) waiting for when I got home.

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    #2
  3. pjgoeman

    pjgoeman Been here awhile

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    Loved it! I added it to my must see rides :imaposer
    #3
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  4. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    You have no idea who Griswold was! Have you never seen National Lampoon's Vacation series? I'm sure it was Clark Griswold who discovered this area on one of his vacations:imaposer
    #4
  5. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Long timer

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    You owe it to yourself to give that Panoche road a try. The eastern portion, coming in from from I-5, is even better. There's other neat stuff back there as well, like the road to Mercy Hot Springs and the famed Panoche Inn, whose days and hours of operation are reportedly subject to the whims of the 8 or so inhabitants of Panoche. I may do a ride report on those someday.

    If you want to give New Idria a go, the road leads south from the inn for 20 miles or so, until it reaches a sign that says, "End of County Maintained Road. If you're as bad a rider as that lad who came through here on the Triumph Tiger two years ago and ride even one single inch past this sign, you will rue the consequences." Don't ask me how I know this :D I'd love to give it a try on an XT250 someday. If I could sort out the gas situation. And had an XT250...
    #5
  6. dpaolini

    dpaolini Slow is smooth and smooth if fast

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    Just so you know, there are many fueling options and food just a quick ride out to the interstate about 10 miles or so off Panoche Road. The turn off is just past the elementary school. It's paved for about a mile than easy graded gravel with a creek crossing. Not too difficult in the dry season. I've hesitated to cross it in spring time though. New Idria is definitely worth the trip although with soon to be rains I would hesitate to travel in there with out suitable tires. It gets rutted up pretty good. Also to enter legally into the BLM section you are required to obtain a permit, you can travel up to the small reservoir which is just before the gate without a permit. You can check it out on the BLM website. Maps are available.
    #6
  7. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Long timer

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    I quite agree about the 'suitable tires' bit. And yes... those ruts... There will be no photographs or ride report of that particular (mis)adventure :D
    #7
  8. Karlfitt

    Karlfitt Long timer Supporter

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    With only a 120 mile range, there are a few stretches of road in Nevada you shouldn't even try.

    Nice report BTW
    #8
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  9. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    I don't mind Scramblers. They kind of remind me of Sportsters.
    #9
  10. wadethewanderer

    wadethewanderer To infinity and beyond. Supporter

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    Great writing style, love the humor. Reminds me of my own limitations. Bolt-on a couple of gallons of fuel and go for it. Great photos as well.
    #10
  11. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Long timer

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    It’s rainy season here in NoCal, days are short, and work, travel, and the need to shop for a new truck have put paid to plans for any serious new rides, so I decided to look through photos of some old ones. These are from a ride to Point Reyes a few years ago on the Tiger, In those days, I always took Sir Francis Drake Boulevard from the freeway to the coast. In my defense, I didn’t know any better. Surely a road named after a famous English sea dog couldn’t be a long tedious slog through mind-numbingly dull – and heavily patrolled -- upscale suburbs. Surely. But the last few miles are nice.

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    At last you get to Inverness, home of the funky Inverness Store. It’s well worth the stop, with a great deli and some interesting ginger beer.

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    They also have interesting neighbors. I still don’t know what this is, but I want one!

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    I'll give this one a miss. I have no idea what the story is behind thsi boat, but it’s been there for years. I suspect they’ve left it around to attract photographers. I, of course, would never be so trite as to stop and takle pictures this like the rest of... uh.... hmm...

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    Here's a shot of the south end of Tomales Bay to go with it. This ranks high on my list of lunch stops. And breakfast stops. And stops :D

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    #11
  12. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Long timer

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    Once past Inverness, I always hit the Pierce Point Road. This is one of those roads that demads to be ridden, for memories that will get you through a god part of the next week. I was having so much fun, I only stopped for one picture. One of these days I'll stop to take more. Maybe. Someday....

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    Theres's a nice hiking trail starting from the old ranch at the end of Pierce Point Road. I never stop for pictures of that one either, but here's the old ranch.

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    From there, in keeping with the Sir Francis Drake theme, it was back to his boulevard, which is a bit more rustic at this end...

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    ...then on to Drake's Beach...

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    ...and a can of The One True Soft Drink...

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    Every time I’d driven this route, I’d blown right past a turnoff labeled 'Mount Vision Road'. This time, I stopped to wonder, “ What’s this 'Mount Vision; thing all about?” The great thing about motos is the chance they give you to answer these questions.

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    This turned into one of those, “Wow, I never knew this was here!’ roads – a clear win, and one rare successes amongst my vast sea of catstrophic failures :D

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    The view was well worth all the fun I had on the ride to the top. Yes, i know that sentance doesn't make any sense, but you know what I mean.

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    The ride ended with a mystery. I took Route 1 home along the coast, because... well... hey... wouldn't anyone? Somwhere along the way, I stopped to take this photo. I have no idea where this was. Was it near the Pouint Reyes visitor center? Some stop for food? I'll have to go back someday and look...

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    #12
  13. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Long timer

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    PART I - NAPOLEON'S RETREAT FROM MOSCOW

    After losing severalo weeks to work and travel, I finally had a chance head out for a ride. Not a long ride, perhaps -– the days are too short and my wife and I had plans for the evening -– but it seemed there’d be time for The Loop. What is The Loop, you may ask? It’s that ride we all have for times when there isn’t time for something longer. For some people this only stretches to a the nearest coffeehouse. For others it reaches across the continent or beyond. Here, it’s a jaunt up Page Mill into the Santa Cruz Mountains, then down Alpine or Highway 84 to the coast to noodle along side roads before heading home. The weather promised to be good, with a forecast of clear skies and light wind out of the west. Since those roads are perfect for the Ducati –- tight and twisty, with some interesting elevation changers –- I decided to take the Tiger, as part of my policy of always using the wrong tool for the job.

    It soon became clear that the forecast may not have been entirely accurate.

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    As I gained altitude, it also became clear that it might not remain clear.

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    Yes, there is a recurring theme here.

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    By the time I reached the parking lot for Montebello Open Space Preserve, visibility had ceased to be a thing that is and become a thing that was. It was time to stop and take stock of the situation.

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    I took this opportunity to check the condition of our favorite mountain bike trail. I suppose it might have a very slight bit of mud.

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    I don’t particularly mind riding in the fog, but here in California, you can be sure you’re sharing it with someone who’s panicked by the weather and slowed to 20 MPH below the speed limit and someone else oblivous to the weather and still cruising at 10 MPH above. If the slow fellow is behind you and the fast fellow is ahead, all is well and good. If their positions are reversed, trouble may arise. With this in mind, I headed back down Page Mill to seek some lunch at My Favorite Cafe and meditate upon my lack of ambition.

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    I consoled mysefl with the observation that Page Mill is a nice road once you get below cloudbase and can see where you’re going. But I could not claim that this day was an unmitigated success...

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    #13
  14. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Long timer

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    PART I - VICTORY AT SEA

    One of the routes home from My Favorite Cafe passes by the entrance to 84. I wasn’t planning to take that turn -- I was only checking the cloud cover, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it -- but curiosity turned into speculation, speculation into action, and once again I was on my across the mountains. By now the clouds had lifted, the road was free of traffic once I passed Skyline, and I was having too much fun to stop for a photo until I got to the coast.

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    Once you reach Highway 1, you’re required to take pictures. If you don’t the State Of California’s Other State Jealousy Police will take away your California citizenship and extradite you to… I dunno… some flat place where everything's straight, like eastern Kansas or somewhere.

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    I didn’t mean to stop for a picture of the Pigeon Point lighthouse, but gosh, that lighthouse was just sitting there! If I didn’t take some tacky picture like this, it’s cinch someone else would...

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    From there it was back along Gazos Creek and Cloverdale (not Cloverfield, which is an entirely different thing). I rather like this route. This time I even stopped for a picture. This is actually one of the more boring stretches. The other bits are better :)

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    Then it was time to head back home. No report of the coast loop would be complete without the Mandatory Picture Of Some Anonymous Stretch Of Skyline Boulevard.

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    I’d say the weather won this one, with a final score of Weather – 38, Paul – 3, but it wasn’t an unmitigated failure. Patience, stubbornness, and a timely wrong turn salvaged something from the day. I will leave it to you to decide if there’s a moral here.
    #14
  15. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Long timer

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    New Bike!

    You all know the feeling. You look at a map and think, “I wonder where that road goes?” That’s why I bought the Tiger 800... to find out. Unfortunately, for all its many virtues, the Tiger was a bit top heavy, and, “I wonder where this road goes?” morphed slowly but subtly into, “I wonder how hosed I’m going to be when I drop this bike at the end of the road?” This inspired the Ducati Scrambler. Surely with a name like ‘Scrambler’, it could handle the challenges that gave me pause on the heavier bike. Unfortunately, the Scrambler had its some issues with range and suspension travel, and “I wonder where this road goes?” quickly became, “I wonder if I’ll have any kidneys left when I run out of gas?”

    This led to Research. Never do Research. After you compare all the numbers for horsepower, torque, weight, suspension travel, fuel capacity, and center of gravity and weighed them in the balance to make the most considered and logical choice, you might end up choosing…

    ....a Moto Guzzi?

    So there I was on Saturday morning, having traded in a magnificent example of English refinement and engineering two days before for… ye gods! Whatever was I thinking? The only way to answer that question -- and knock off some of those running-in miles – was to take my shiny new V85 TT on the Usual Loop to the coast. In keeping with this Italian theme that seems to have crept into my life, I began the day with some biscotti.

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    Then it was out to the garage to add the Very First Farkle – a GPS mount – wheel the machine out of the garage, and… I must say, this wasn’t at all like my old Tiger. This wasn’t like any other motorcycle in the known universe.

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    It was also turning into an unreal amount of fun. Every time I hit that starter button, I’d found myself smiling from ear to ear. And thinking of Red Barchetta, Mario Castoldi, and Porco Rosso. But I digress. First a look at the odometer, it will never read this low again

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    It soon became clear that I’d stared too early. The roads were wet and covered with runoff from the last night’s rain, the air was thick with fog, and I really should have reinstalled that pinlock to stop my helmet from fogging. Maybe tomorrow. Also, I wasn’t even remotely dialed into the new bikes handling (see note above about ‘wasn’t like any other motorcycle in the known universe’). I stopped at Montebello Open Space preserve to wait for a photo op while I waited for the fog to clear.

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    Usually I head down Alpine to the coast because why would anyone take a good road with fast sweeping turns when a bad road was right there? But with all the wet, Alpine promised to be a festival of mud and wet leaves, so I turned north Skyline, with another stop for a photo op at The Scenic Overlook Everyone Stops At

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    The rider may not be the very picture of elegance, but check out that bike! :D The plan from there was to ride down 84 (see note above about ‘ good road with fast sweeping turns’) but I pressed on to Tunitas Creek instead, because... well... look at the picture and ask yourself,. wouldn’t you?

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    There really is a creek by that name. The road follows it, sometimes on one side, sometimes the other, with turnoffs carefully designed so that the only ones where you could stop for a view of the water pretty much guarantee you’ll drop your bike. I settled for this view instead.

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    Stop there on a weekend morning and the first thing that will strike you is the silence. A metropolitan complex with ten million people may be on the other side of the mountains, but the only sounds you’ll hear are the rustle of the creek, a few distant birds, and the whirr whirr whirr of over-achieving bicyclists zooming past on their first 100 miles of the day.

    Tunitas Creek joins to a maze – a simple one, perhaps, but still a maze – of roads with names like Lobotos Creek, Verde, Purisma Creek, Higgins Canyon. I never can keep track of them all, and I was having too much fun to stop and take pictures until I spotted the Burleigh H Murray Ranch State Park. What was this,I wondered? In all the years I’ve lived and ridden here, I’d never noticed it, or even been aware of it’s existence. This was worth a look.

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    It has a pretty-looking mountain bike trail my wife and I will have to check out some day. It also offers useful advice for dealing with mountain lions. "Wave your arms overhead and make plenty of noise to frighten it away." One imagines this might also work on telemarketers :D

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    Then, having avoided becoming lunch for a lion, it was time for lunch myself (to be continued)...
    #15
  16. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Long timer

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    New Bike, Part II

    The Usual Loop offers many good options for lunch – one of the many terrible burdens of living in the Bay Area is that you’re rarely more than a few miles from excellent food. I chose the deli at Pescadero because it has the best chocolate, and because I wanted to check out their wine selection (another one of the terrible burdens of living in the Bay Area). I arrived to find two Africa Twins (twin Africa Twins? Africa Twin twins?) parked outside, belonging to two seasoned-looking fellows named Rob and Ralph. The usual exchange of stories followed – they had better ones than me, of course – during which they informed me they’d come down Alpine, and it had failed to be every bit as much fun as I hadn’t expected it to be. “Thanks for the advice,” I told them. “I’ll be sure to give it a miss on the way home.” Oh, the plans we weave. Then it was south down the coast for more photo ops...

    Bean Hollow, so named because the beach is composed of small bean-sized pebbles. A sign admonishes visitors not to make off with them lest it become Mud Hollow.

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    The Big Road Cut On The Way To Waddle Beach. Usually it just look like...well.. a big road cut, but today the combination of light and mist gave it a certain majesty.

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    The turnaround point for The Usual Loop is Swanton Road. This is one of those roads that demands ‘ride a motorcycle here’. One imagines this gets rather old for the Swantonese (if that isn’t a word, it mist certainly should be), so I usually take it at an easy pace, slowing down when I pass the farms-inhabited-by-people-who-must-have-a-serious-love-hate-relationship-with-motos-by-now. And in truth, it’s a road to take at pace that gives you time to appreciate it.

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    Swanton brings you back to the coast, some distance south of Gazos Creek. You can take this one a bit faster, if you’re sure no RV is barreling around that blind turn ahead. Today they were. Also, it seemed to be National Drive On The Wrong Side Of The Road Day, which added an additional element of sport. But it’s still a nice road.

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    By now I was finally getting used to V85. I still felt as if I’d ridden into another dimension, but this dimension was beginning to make sense. It was also becoming clear that there is no mud in the Italian dimension. Nothing else can explain why its inhabitants don’t take steps to keep it off their machines :D

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    All good things, muddy or not, must come to an end, so I took the back roads to 84 for the ride home. This began well, but just as I was reaching the interesting bit (see note about about fast sweeping turns) I came to a string of stopped cars. This is never good news. This time the news took the firm of emergency vehicles, and an accident that promised to block the road for at lest an hour. I didn’t stick around to learn more – I’ve helped out with too many rescues over the years to enjoy watching another – so I got the bike turned around and headed back to pick another route. The options were north to 92, traffic, and freeway miles I wanted to avoid until the bike was run in, Tunitas Creek again – been there, done that – or… Alpine? “Heck,” How bad can it be?”

    Not bad, it turned out… were it not for the fact that this was still National Drive On The Wrong Side Of The Road Day.. Why doesn’t anyone tell me about these things! I caught up with a minivan and let him plow the road for me, but he retaliated by slowing to a crawl at unexpected moments. This rather put paid to more stops for photo ops. But like good things, all bad things must also come to an end, and I finally made it to Montebello to stop, deal with the anger issues, and take a refreshment break. I felt it was important to continue the Italian Theme.

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    From there it was an easy jaunt home, with a short freeway stretch to see how the V85 handled the Expansion Joint From Hell (not pictured). As well as the Tiger, it turned out, which is high praise. A stop for some (Italian) wine so my wife wouldn’t think I’d wasted the day, then it was back to the garage, muddier, wiser, and happy with the new machine.

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    #16
  17. airhead_irl

    airhead_irl Airhead addict

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    Lovely photos and beautiful bike. May you enjoy for many miles !
    #17
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  18. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Long timer

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    Thanks! I'll do my best! And until I get a front mudguard system sorted (I understand from the forums that the part for an Aprilia Caponord Rally 1200 may be a bolt-on fit), I won't need this product :D
    #18
  19. DADODIRT

    DADODIRT Long timer Supporter

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    That day in the fog reminds me of a ride I was on last April, coming down Painted Cave Road into Santa Barbara. I couldn't see 20 feet in front of me, but was comfortable doing the speed limit or a bit more. Then, all of a sudden, there's a white van, no lights, coming towards me! Or the bicyclists that appear out of nowhere!
    #19
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  20. Sibhod

    Sibhod Been here awhile Supporter

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    Nice ride reports! I probably live less than 5 miles from you but it looks like you know the mountains better than I do, I have not been on all of those roads. If you ever want some company on one of these rides, drop me a line.
    #20